Gail Mackiernan and Barry Cooper
216 Mowbray Road, Silver Spring, MD 20904
This is our eighth seabird-oriented voyage on a commercial cruise ship [plus one cruise on a Scripps research vessel]. In all about 150 days and many thousands of miles cruising the oceans surveying pelagic species. On this trip, our birding friend Sally Wechsler joined us. Sally had been on a previous cruise with us from New Zealand to Japan.
We have learned that these large vessels offer many opportunities for the serious sea-birder. Not least of which is a completely stable platform from which one can comfortably use one’s scopes, covered decks in wet weather, and a vast array of possible routes. Downsides are of course that one cannot choose the exact course, there is no chasing or chumming, nor Zodiac rides. Rather, these represent what oceanographers call “ships of opportunity” – vessels which provide a platform for one’s work whilst their actual purpose differs. The various shipboard amenities are mere icing on the cake for the committed sea-birder!
For this voyage we were onboard the Silver Shadow [of the cruise line Silver Sea]. This ship is smaller (and far more luxurious!) than the typical cruise ship, holding approximately 350 passengers. For this voyage the ship was partly empty carrying only about 160 passengers. The ship has multiple decks to bird from. Unlike some of the cruise ships, we were unable to get right onto the bow that typically provides the best viewing conditions. Depending on the weather and sea conditions we birded on a variety of decks but favored mostly deck 5 that is about 20-25 feet above the surface of the sea. While smaller than many cruise ships, the Silver Shadow was extremely stable even in gale force winds while we were in the Sea of Okhotsk. The cruise departed Seward, Alaska, on September 8th and we had arranged to arrive three days early in Anchorage and do some land-birding. Likewise, at the end of the cruise [on September 23rd] we stayed on in South Korea for three more days of birding [this turned out to be an excellent decision].
We were extremely fortunate to have Nial Moores available to guide for us in Republic of Korea. Nial has tremendous knowledge of Korean bird sites and his field identification experience of the birds is incredible. Thanks to Nial we had an amazing three days of birding. Nial lives in Busan so he had arranged to fly up to Incheon and meet us at the airport. His contact email is: email@example.com
On Kodiak Island, Donna Hurley graciously again agreed to take us out for a full day’s birding. Donna is a Birding Pal (birdingpal.org) and was a great help on our 2007 visit as well. After about eight hours of birding, Donna came through for us with a flock of our much-hoped-for Emperor Geese!
On Dutch Harbor/Unalaska, Suzi Golodoff was kind enough to show us a nice variety of birds. Unfortunately, due to the ship’s schedule – and the very late dawn in mid-September) we only had about three hours’ of birding. Still a very enjoyable time.
Lee, Woo-Shin, Tae-Hoe Koo and Jin-Young Park. 2000. A Field Guide to the Birds of Korea. LG Evergreen Foundation, Seoul. 328 pp. An adequate field guide.
Onley, Derek & Paul Scofield. 2007. Albatrosses, Petrels and Shearwaters of the World. Helm Field Guides, Christopher Helm, London. 240 pp.
West, George W. 2002 A Birder’s Guide to Alaska. American Birding Association, Colorado.586 pp. The essential guide for bird-finding in Alaska.
Alaska: Eagle River Motel, Old Eagle River Rd., Eagle River. 907-694-5000 or firstname.lastname@example.org Very convenient to birding sites near and north of Anchorage.
Korea: In Korea we stayed at two so-called “love motels” which are designed for private assignations but which are clean and very quiet. These were chosen “on spec” by Nial and were unexpectedly nice with internet and large-screen TV in every room. Also, mirrors on the ceiling (!).
Anchorage: We rented a mid-sized regular sedan from Avis at the, pick-up on 5th and return on 8th for about $150 all in. We did not need 4WD for the sites we visited although some roads (e.g. Arctic Valley, Hatcher Pass) were unpaved.
Dutch Harbor: North Port Rentals 907 581 3880. (This is the second time we have used them and they are reliable). Car was waiting at the dock before dawn with key on the cuo-holder, we paid at their airport office ($105) and returned at the dock, leaving key in car. Very painless!
Incheon: Again, we rented from Avis (at Incheon AP) and were given a full-sized Kia sedan that was extremely roomy for the four of us plus luggage. Nial does not drive so Barry did all the driving, which – because of Korea’s excellent road system – was not as difficult as expected. Fortunately Nial could interpret the signs so we only got semi-lost once. This was a very good deal – only $230 for the 4 days.
September 5th We arrived at Anchorage AP at around 6.00 p.m. After picking up our car from Avis, we drove about 40 minutes to the Eagle River Motel. This was comfortable accommodation and very convenient to several good birding sites outside of Anchorage.
September 6th Early morning visit to Eagle River State Park. Birding was quite slow but we did see two Brown Bears fishing for migrating sockeye salmon in a small tributary of Eagle River. After birding this area for several hours, we drove to Arctic Valley. This is a military facility but the public has access assuming no military maneuvers. Unfortunately there was a military roadblock about halfway up the road. We birded the lower section of the road and then a short drive to Hillside Park with the main target being Three-toed Woodpecker. No luck with the woodpecker but we did have a very close encounter with two full-grown Moose feeding by the trail. We then visited Potter Marsh, a fresh water wetland close to Anchorage. Finally we re-visited Arctic Valley in the late afternoon and drove up to the summit. Our best birds today were two impressive pairs of Trumpeter Swans, two Goshawks, including a fine adult female, and three Varied Thrushes.
September 7th Dawn visit to Eagle River State Park followed by a brief stop at the nearby North Fork, pull-off. We then had a fairly long drive to the summit of the Hatcher Pass [about 4,000 feet]. There we enjoyed some fantastic scenery. We ended up with a late afternoon drive up Arctic Valley. Best birds were a Golden Eagle at the top of the pass, and fantastic close views of four Spruce Grouse including a displaying male along the Arctic Valley road. Also a pair of American Dippers and a party of thirty Grey-crowned Rosy-finches, The mammal of the day without doubt was a Lynx walking along the side of the road at Arctic Valley!
September 8th Early morning visits to both Kincaid and Earthquake Parks, also Westchester Lagoon, all situated near the airport in Anchorage. We then returned the rental car and embarked on a four hour scenic train ride to Seward. Only a few birds and mammals were seen from the train. At Seward we boarded the Silver Shadow at around 6.00 p.m. Very beautiful scenery today but not very birdy. This re-enforced our impression that most non-resident birds had already headed south for the winter. No real stand-out species today.
September 9th The ship docked at Homer at 6:00 a.m. Prior to disembarking, we had great scope views of an adult Thayer’s Gull resting on a buoy with a couple of Herring Gulls for comparison, We then disembarked and a very short walk bought us to Homer Spit. We spent an enjoyable couple of hours birding this migratory spot. There were large numbers of six sparrow species and Gail managed to see a Bobolink, a vagrant in Alaska. We then embarked on a 6 hour mini-cruise in Katchamak Bay to Seldovia. We enjoyed our first pelagic species with Forked-tailed Petrels, Long-tailed Jaeger and Red-necked Phalaropes. We managed to see six alcid species on this bay cruise with the best being eight Horned Puffins. We had missed this species on our spring 2007 cruise from Japan to Alaska and so were delighted to finally catch up with it. However we dipped on the 2-3 Long-billed Murrelets that have been hanging around in Katchamak Bay for the past couple of months.
September 10th Our next stop was Kodiak Island. The ship docked at around 8.00 a.m. allowing us about 1 1/2 hours sea-watching prior to docking. During this time we saw our first Black-footed Albatrosses, Fulmars and both Sooty and Short-tailed Shearwaters. The latter species would then be with us for days with numbers running well into the tens of thousands. Donna Hurley again graciously agreed to take us birding around Kodiak. Another brilliant day’s birding with the high point being a “lucky” party of thirteen Emperor Geese.
September 11th Our first full day at sea heading parallel and south of Aleutian Islands towards our next destination, Dutch Harbor. We had our maximum count of Black-footed Albatrosses today. Other good sightings were our only Leach’s Storm-Petrels of the trip and six Buller’s Shearwaters – the latter a very good number for this uncommon Alaskan species. Alcids seen totaled only four species and less than 100 individuals. Again a good indicator that most birds had moved south to their wintering areas.
September 12th We arrived at Dutch Harbor (Unalaska Island) at 8.00 a.m. (still dark) and had less than four hours for birding on the island. The island’s local birder, Suzi Golodoff, had kindly agreed to come out with us. We visited the local migrant trap [Strawberry Hill] and the Causeway. Unfortunately little or no migrants at Strawberry Hill, probably not helped by light off-and-on rain. Our best birds were Lapland Longspurs and a single Snow Bunting plus Red Phalaropes, Wandering Tattler and Rock Sandpiper. The Silver Shadow departed Dutch Harbor around 1.00 p.m. for the long trip to Petropavlovsk [over 1,200 nautical miles]. The best bird during the afternoon seawatch was a beautiful juvenile Sabine’s Gull which closely followed the ship for several minutes.
September 13th A full day at sea, We were now in the Bering Sea with the Aleutian Islands just visible to our west. The best birds today were our first Mottled Petrels of the trip with at least thirty birds seen. Also, a welcome increase in Laysan Albatrosses and our last sightings of Horned Puffins for the trip.
September 15th Our last full day in American waters. Today will be rememberedfor a long time for the excitement in the late afternoon caused by the appearance of about twenty-five Solander’s Petrels with birds all round the ship for about 45 minutes. We were still in American waters [about 55 miles from Attu] and we realized this would be a major rarity event. Other birds today were our high count of Laysan Albatrosses in US waters plus decent numbers of Mottled Petrels and close views of a juvenile Ross’s Gull.
September 16th Another full day at sea but now in Asian waters. Still good numbers of both Mottled and Solander’s Petrels plus three more Buller’s Shearwaters. We also observed a southerly movement of Black-legged Kittiwakes together with about ten Red-legged Kittiwakes. The day at sea was enlivened by two Sharp-tailed Sandpipers that flew around the ship calling. Also, the arrival of a Grey-streaked Flycatcher that spent most of the day on the ship.
We also had a little excitement today courtesy of the Russian Navy. While heading south towards Petro, a Russian heavy cruiser appeared on the horizon & rapidly approached the Silver Shadow. Our ship made a noticeable detour of its track. Later an announcement was made that we would be delayed docking at Petro due to Russian “naval exercises”. (Avacha Bay holds a fair proportion of the Russian far-Eastern fleet including many submarines.)
September 17th The delay in docking at Petro worked in our favor as instead of cruising into Avacha Bay during the night we would not enter until after dawn. As a result we had great views of about 300 Crested Auklets off the ship. However, the Bay was far less interesting than on our spring, 2007 cruise with very few waterfowl, etc. We were disappointed not to see any Steller’s Eiders that numbered in the low hundreds on the spring trip.
We had arranged for a car, driver and a non- birding guide (Larita, a local English teacher) to meet us. Due to the delay in docking this was unfortunately a shorter trip than expected. The guide and driver had been waiting for 3 hours for us! Our plan was to drive out of Petro towards the coast, and stop at any good-looking spots. This paid off big time. Our first stop was a nice looking wetland where we had the most unexpected surprise of the trip - a drake Baer’s Pochard. Totally unexpected and brilliant!!
The other major birding event of the afternoon was when BC sighted three very large raptors with the two smaller birds harassing the larger one. We stumbled out of the van to get great views of a very large female Steller’s Sea Eagle fly low overhead. The other two raptors were not positively identified but were almost certainly White-tailed Sea Eagles. As the afternoon drew in and birding died, we did some local sight-seeing – visiting a market, a splendid church and at the last, a telecom hill from which we could see all of Petro laid out before us.
September 18th This would be our final day cruising in the Pacific Ocean as we would enter the Sea of Okhotsk during the afternoon. We were up early sea-watching with the ship heading south about 10+ miles from the Kamtchaka coast. We at last picked-out a Short-tailed Albatross at the eleventh hour as we were pretty certain we would not see any in the Sea of Okhotsk. The bird came close to the ship providing brilliant views. Sea birds were very plentiful with our maximum counts of both Laysan Albatross and Forked-tailed Petrels. Also our last two Solander’s Petrels were seen.
September 19th Cruising all day in the Sea of Okhotsk; the weather was quite stormy (we were catching the edge of a typhoon battering the east coast of Japan) which probably contributed to the rather slow birding. Not surprisingly, there was a marked decline in virtually all pelagic species. This continued for the remainder of the trip. We did see the last of both Black-footed and Laysan Albatrosses. Both Northern Fulmars [still in the thousands], Short-tailed Shearwaters [in the hundreds], Forked-tailed Petrels and Black-legged Kittiwakes were also recorded for the last time.
September 20th With no seabirds to be seen, the most exciting time was discovering a Middendorf’s Grasshopper Warbler which had come aboard. We managed great views before it disappeared below a stack of deck-chairs. The other land birds seen were two Eastern Yellow Wagtails.
September 21st The only bird of note today were our first Streaked Shearwaters of the trip. We were now cruising in the Sea of Japan and this body of water seemed almost totally devoid of birds..
September 22nd A slight increase in bird activity. The Streaked Shearwaters had increased to about three hundred. Also seen were several small parties of phalaropes, our first Eurasian Hobby, a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper made several passes around the ship and three Pomarine Jaegers were recorded.
September 23rd The cruise ship docked at the port of Incheon, South Korea at about 8.00 a.m. Quite a few gulls were loafing around the harbor the most notable being about 300 Black-tailed Gulls. The transfer from the dock to the International Airport was very efficient. We stored the large bags with our cruise clothing at the convenient in-airport luggage storage facility, and only took small carry-ons with us. We were extremely fortunate to have Nial Moores guide us for the next three days; he had flown up from his home in Busan to meet us. Nial has spent the last 18 years in Japan and/or South Korea. We were tremendously impressed with both his field knowledge of the birds, Korean birding sites and his long commitment to the conservation effort in Korea. Thanks to Nial we had a tremendously enjoyable time over the next three days and saw an incredible amount of birds, including two of our main targets, Baikal Teal and White-backed Woodpecker.
After picking up the rental car (a full-sized Kia sedan from Avis) we drove a short distance to the Yeonguong Island tidal flats. Many waders were present, which included such rarities as Black-faced Spoonbill and Chinese Egret. Other birds seen were Great Knot, good numbers of both Greenshank and Marsh Sandpiper, as well as many Far-eastern Curlews. On to a local lake which yielded good numbers of Falcated Teal. Finally, we visited Namhanson, a woodland park with a nice variety of passerines including Asian Stubtail and Asian Dipper.
September 24th In the morning we visited Namhanson and the temple gardens adjacent to it. After a long search we managed to connect with a male White-backed Woodpecker as well as a few migrant buntings. We then had a fairly long drive around mid-day to the Seosan lake region. This is a huge area of rice fields surrounding an equally huge lake (Seosan Lake A). Unfortunately, this lake has been created by draining a vast area of tidal wetlands, critically threatened in Korea. As a marine biologist, Gail was horrified at the extent of destruction of this habitat, vital for many birds, as well as almost every important fishery! It seems as if no one in authority in Korea understands this critical link (or cares). Highlights were many including very large numbers of Baikal Teal, both Tundra and Taiga Bean Geese, and both Spoonbills,
September 25th The early morning was spent on the T’aean Peninsula looking for fall migrants. Unfortunately, very little migration due to the unseasonably warm weather. Best birds were Temminck’s Cormorant, Bull-headed Shrike, a flock of Vinous-throated Parrotbills and an unexpected Light-vented Bulbul. The afternoon we visited the much-diminished Cheonsu Bay mud-flats as well as Seosan Lake area again. This brilliant site again produced good birds including surprisingly high numbers of both Chinese and Intermediate Egrets and twenty-two species of wader.
September 26th Our last morning birding in So. Korea. We drove NE to the “family park” in Gwacheon near Seoul. This is a rather small park with lots of ornamental plantings , as well as considerable native Chestnut woodland. After a slow start we found a fruiting tree and had a good selection of migrants including four species of flycatcher and three handsome Grey-backed Thrushes. At a different site in the park we also had our only Chestnut-sided White-eyes of the trip.
Common Loon/ Great Northern Diver: A total of six birds seen in Alaska.
Pacific Loon/Diver: Also six birds seen in Alaska.
Black-throated Diver: A single bird seen in flight at sea south of Petropavlovsk.
Great Crested Grebe: At least six birds seen during a brief look over Seosan Lake in Korea. Probably there were many more grebes on this vast lake.
Red-necked Grebe: Fairly common in Alaska with counts of fifteen on a lake in Anchorage and twenty seen on our day in Kodiak.
Horned Grebe: A total of eight birds seen during our three days in Alaska.
Black-footed Albatross: Recorded on seven days and more numerous in U.S. waters. Maximum daily count was eighty birds at sea south of the Aleutians & heading towards Dutch Harbor. In fact, this is a low estimate as many albatrosses were seen around a fishing boat but too far away for an accurate count. Maximum count in Asian waters was thirty birds seen south of Petropavlovsk [Petro]. This included many birds concentrating at the entrance to the Sea of Okhotsk. Only one bird seen the following day in the Sea of Okhotsk and none seen in the Sea of Japan.
Laysan Albatross: Recorded on eight dates and distinctly more numerous in Asian waters. Maximum daily count in U.S. waters was eighty birds at sea south of the Aleutians & heading towards Dutch Harbor. The maximum count in Asian waters was two hundred birds seen in the Pacific Ocean south of Petro as the ship cruised about 10 miles off the coast. This numbers also included a large concentration of birds as we entered the Sea of Okhotsk. Eight birds were seen the following day in the Sea of Okhotsk and again none were seen in the Sea of Japan.
Short-tailed Albatross: Our most-wanted pelagic species, and we had almost given up hope of seeing this albatross. We were down to our last morning in the Pacific Ocean prior to entering the Sea of Okhotsk. Finally, BC picked out an immature about one-half mile off. Even at this range it looked a strong suspect. Fortunately, the bird decided to check out the ship and we eventually got crippling views from down to 50 yards! Unforgettable, and the bird of the trip.
Northern Fulmar: The second most common & widespread pelagic species being recorded on nine days with a daily maximum estimate of 3,000 birds (plus two days when numbers were so high we simply ticked it in the daily log.) Most were dark-phase birds.
Mottled Petrel: An estimated seventy-five birds seen during the trip with about thirty birds in U.S and forty-five in Asian waters. All sightings were concentrated in a three-day period as the ship cruised in the Bering Sea north of the western Aleutians and then into the Pacific northeast of Petro. This number is considerably lower than the 300+ seen on a similar trip in these waters in the spring of 2007.
Solander’s Petrel: The most exciting period of the entire trip was on September 15th while still in American waters. After a fairly slow day for sea birds, activity picked-up in the late afternoon. At approximately 5.45 p.m. the first Solander’s Petrel was observed flying by only fifty feet away. Our immediate impression of the first bird [and subsequently with all individuals seen] was a large, heavy, long-winged Pterodroma petrel. The birds were somewhat larger and obviously longer-winged than the numerous Short-tailed Shearwaters in the vicinity. Also, they were substantially larger, longer-winged and more powerful looking than Mottled Petrel. (This latter species was also present at the same time allowing for direct comparison.) The bill was also long and heavy. An obvious feature was the birds’ long and wedge-shaped tails. The long wings were broad-based, and carried in a typical forward “bent-wrist” manner.
During the next 45 or so minutes, we observed a number of other birds flying around the ship and following in the ship’s wake. Estimating the exact number was difficult. We had about ten following in the wake at one time with others in sight flying parallel to the ship. The birds were flying very fast and arcing high in the sky, and with much interchange between following in the wake and peeling off to fly around the ship. In all we estimated at least twenty- five birds seen during a very exciting 45 minutes.
The ship’s position at 6.00 p.m. was LAT 53º16.9N LONG 171º05.3E, about 55 nm N.W. of Attu and about 25nm east of the US maritime boarder. The officer on the bridge confirmed that the ship was not expected to cross the US maritime boarder until approximately 8.00 p.m. that evening.
The following day [our first in Asian waters] about fifty more birds were observed – all virtually identical in flight, plumage coloration etc to those seen on the previous day.
There does not appear to be any accepted records of this species in American waters [although we understand there are 1-2 records presently under consideration]. We submitted a report of our sighting and photographs to the Alaska Rare Birds Committee, and have since heard that our sightings have been accepted and represent the first record for Alaska. The record is now under consideration by the ABA’s record’s committee.
Buller’s Shearwater: A total of ten birds seen, of which nine were in U.S waters. All of the latter sightings were concentrated in the Pacific as the ship cruised from Kodiak to Dutch Harbor.
Sooty Shearwater: Recorded on three dates with a daily maximum of one hundred birds. Probably overlooked amongst the vast numbers of Short-tailed Shearwaters.
Short-tailed Shearwater: The most common & widespread sea bird. In all recorded on nine days. Estimating numbers very difficult but in the tens (100s?) of thousands on some days. Estimated in the low hundreds during our first two days in the Sea of Okhotsk but not seen subsequently.
Streaked Shearwater: Recorded on two days in the Sea of Japan with a daily maximum of three hundred birds.
Leach’s Storm-Petrel: Recorded on just one day with a total of forty birds seen as the ship cruised from Kodiak to Dutch Harbor.
Forked-tailed Storm-Petrel: In all, recorded on eight days with a daily maximum of 3,000 birds seen in the Pacific south of Petro. A few birds were seen on the first two days in the Sea of Okhotsk.
Double-crested Cormorant: Our only record was four birds seen at Kodiak Island. Probably overlooked as we did not spend a lot of time examining cormorants.
Red-faced Cormorant: Common in Avacha Bay at Petro.
Brandt’s Cormorant: Two birds were recorded at Homer.
Pelagic Cormorant: Quite common at Homer and Kodiak and also at Petro.
Great Cormorant: Recorded on two days in Korea with a daily maximum of fifty birds.
Temminck’s Cormorant: Three birds seen along rocky shore of the Talan Peninsular, Korea.
Grey Heron: Up to ten birds seen daily in Korea.
Black-crowned Night Heron: Up to fifty birds leaving their roost in late afternoon at the large wetland/rice field area around Seosan Lake[ S.Korea].
Little Egret: Very common in S. Korea at the various wetland areas visited.
Intermediate Egret: Fifteen birds watched feeding with other egrets in a harvested rice field at Seosan Lake.
Chinese Egret: We were very pleased to see this uncommon egret with an impressive total of eight birds seen on tidal flats and rice fields. This species is listed as vulnerable with population of not more than 3,400 birds.
Great Egret: Common & widespread in Korea.
Striated Heron: Single birds seen on two occasions in Korea.
Black-faced Spoonbill: We were fortunate to obtain excellent prolonged views of this IUCN Red List Category species. In all about fourteen birds seen with the majority feeding on the Yeongsong Island tidal flats. -Superb
Eurasian Spoonbill: A party of three together with two Black-faced Spoonbills resting on a sand bar at the Seosan Lake.
Trumpeter Swan: Two pairs of this impressive swan were seen at Potter Marsh outside of Anchorage.
Dusky Canada Goose: Several birds of this large dark form were accompanying a small party of the following species.
Aleutian Canada Goose: Recorded on three days with a maximum of about 100 birds seen in flight outside of Anchorage.
Emperor Goose: Having just missed this species on our last trip to Kodiak, this goose was close to the top of our list. We spent most of our day on the island searching for it without success. Finally, at the eleventh hour we found a party of thirteen birds. Superb and well worth the effort.
Tundra/ Taiga Bean Geese: Mixed flocks totaling up to four hundred birds of both Tundra and Taiga Bean Geese watched for extended periods at the Seosan Lake.
Greater White-fronted Goose: A party of thirty-five birds seen in flight near Anchorage. Also about two hundred birds were mixed-in with the Bean Gees at the Seosan Lake. Unfortunately, despite prolonged searching, no Lesser White-fronted Geese [which winter here in small numbers] were seen.
Mandarin Duck: A single female seen at Seosan Lake A.
Mallard: Recorded in small numbers in Korea. Fairly common & widespread around Anchorage.
Spot-billed Duck: Common & widespread in Korea with an estimated six hundred birds at the Seosan Sea.
American Wigeon: Recorded most days in Alaska with a maximum of forty birds on Kodiak.
Eurasian Wigeon: About seventy-five birds seen at a lake near Incheon.
Green-winged Teal: Up to fifteen birds recorded on two dates in Alaska.
Common Teal: Up to thirty birds recorded on three dates in Korea.
Falcated Teal: About seventy-five birds seen on a lake outside of Incheon. Unfortunately all birds were still in eclipse plumage. However, facial pattern and head shape quite distinctive from the accompanying Eurasian Wigeons.
Baikal Teal: A very impressive number of Baikal Teals seen both days at Seosan Lake totaling up to 2-3,000 birds. Excellent views obtained as large flocks flew around and fed at quite close range. The large majority were still in eclipse plumage but were quite distinctive being a warmer almost orange-brown color quite dissimilar to that of the Common Teal. Also a pronounced white spot at the base of the bill and pale eye-strip were distinctive. We were also very fortunate in seeing at least two splendid adult males in their beautiful breeding plumage. – Unforgettable experience.
Gadwall: Uncommon in both Alaska and Korea with just four birds seen in both countries.
Northern Pintail: About thirty birds seen at Seosan Lake.
Northern Shoveller: Small parties of up to ten birds seen in both Alaska and Korea.
Ring-necked Duck: Our only sighting was of five birds on a lake near Anchorage.
Lesser Scaup: A party of fifteen birds seen on a lagoon near Anchorage.
Baer’s Pochard: Without doubt the most unexpected bird of the trip. W e were driving past an interesting wetland just outside of Petro and decided to stop and check it out. We came across an aythya duck quite unfamiliar to us. We watched it from down to thirty feet and initially could not put a name to it before it dawned on us that this was a true rarity! The bird was a drake about 80% into breeding plumage. It had a dark greenish head, white eye and blue bill. This contrasted with dark reddish-brown breast. The flanks were warm brown with patchy white markings. – Amazing luck!
Goldeneye sp. A party of six immature/or eclipse birds were watched on a lagoon just outside of Anchorage. Bills all dark similar to Common Goldeneye but the head shape appeared more similar to Barrow’s.
Red-breasted Merganser: About fifty birds seen feeding in the tidal lagoons on Kodiak.
Harlequin Duck: Common on Kodiak and Dutch Harbor but surprisingly only twelve birds seen in Avacha Bay [where we had seen hundreds on our spring trip].
Common Eider: Amazingly, our only sighting was of two birds seen on Kodiak.
Black Scoter: A party of forty birds seen in flight at Avacha Bay.
Surf Scoter: Twenty birds seen at Kodiak.
White-winged Scoter: About 100 birds seen at various coastal sites on Kodiak.
Northern Harrier: Single “ringtails” seen at both Homer and Kodiak.
Eastern Marsh Harrier: An impressive male watched quartering rice fields at Seosan Lake.
Goshawk: A total of three birds, including good views of a fine adult while birding at Eagle River Park, Alaska.
Sharp-shinned Hawk: A total of about six birds seen at Eagle River Park .
Eurasian Sparrowhawk: A single bird at the “Family Park” in Gwacheon, near Seoul.
Japanese Sparrowhawk: Likewise, a single bird well seen at the Gwacheon Family Park.
Red-tailed Hawk: Surprisingly scarce in Alaska with just a single bird seen.
Rough-legged Hawk: A single bird seen at Arctic Valley, Alaska.
Golden Eagle: A fine sub-adult bird watched hunting high up at Hatcher Pass, Alaska.
Bald Eagle: Much scarcer than on our previous trip to Alaska. In all about twenty birds seen including ten at Dutch Harbor. Probably most birds were away fishing along the salmon rivers.
Steller’s Sea Eagle: We were told not to expect this magnificent raptor as birds would not be around Avacha Bay but would be along the many salmon rivers in Kamchatka. On our day in Petro, we had arranged a car, driver and a non-birder guide. While driving just outside of the town we saw three very large raptors with two birds harassing the third. The latter turned out to be an extremely large immature female Steller's. It flew quite low directly over us. Absolutely fabulous and unforgettable experience.
[White-tailed Sea Eagle:] The two smaller birds [although still very large] harassing the Steller’s Sea Eagle were almost certainly of this species. However, we were so preoccupied watching the Steller”s we did not clinch their i/d for certain.
American Kestrel: A total of six birds seen at various sites in Alaska.
Eurasian Kestrel: Just a couple of birds seen near Seosan Lake.
Eurasian Hobby: A total of five birds seen at various sites in Korea.
Peregrine: A total of three birds seen with one in Alaska and two in Korea,
Merlin: Fairly numerous in Alaska with six birds seen. This included a single bird flying around the ship as it cruised in the Gulf of Alaska. Also a single perched bird seen at Seosan Lake, Korea.
Ring-necked Pheasant: A male seen briefly at the “Family Park’ with others heard calling. This was a true wild bird – perhaps the first we have ever seen.
Spruce Grouse: This was BC’s most wanted boreal species. We had to work hard for this one, but we eventually obtained spectacular views of both a single bird at Eagle River Park and a party of four birds at Arctic Valley. This included a male displaying to a female from down to four yards! – Superb.
Eurasian Coot: Six birds seen at Seosan Lake, Korea.
We tallied an impressive 34 species of shorebirds for the trip as follows:
Little Ringed Plover: A party of four birds seen at Seosan Lake.
Ringed Plover: An uncommon bird in Korea, therefore we were a little surprised to see single bird at Seosan Lake.
Kentish Plover: A party of about ten birds seen at Seosan lake.
Mongolian Plover: Distant views of a single bird on the tidal flats at Yeonguong Island.
Pacific/American Golden Plover: Distant views of a party of fifteen birds on Kodiak. Also a single Pacific G.P. seen in Korea,
Black-bellied Plover: Up to ten birds recorded on three dates in Korea.
Great Knot: Distant views of two birds seen on the tidal flats at Yeonguong.
Temminck’s Stint: We watched two birds of this uncommon wader in Korea at Seosan lake.
Red-necked Stint: Quite scarce with only one sighting of twenty-five birds in Korea.
Least Sandpiper: Just two birds seen on Kodiak. By early September, most shore birds had already moved south from Alaska.
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper: Our only sightings were of two birds seen flying around the ship while we were south of the Commodore Islands and a similar bird around the ship while we were cruising in the Sea of Japan.
Dunlin: Recorded in small numbers in both Kodiak and Korea.
Black Oystercatcher: Fifty birds seen at Kodiak and four at Dutch Harbor.
Common Redshank: Single birds recorded on three dates in Korea.
Spotted Redshank: Eight individuals of this very attractive shorebird were seen at wetlands in Korea.
Common Greenshank: Recorded daily in Korea with a maximum of fifty birds on the Yeonguong tidal flats.
Greater Yellowlegs: Just a single bird seen around Anchorage.
Marsh Sandpiper: This elegant wader was fairly common in Korea with a daily maximum of thirty birds seen on the Yeonguong tidal flats.
Wandering Tattler: Our only tattler of the trip was a single bird seen on Kodiak.
Green Sandpiper: Three birds seen around the Seosan Lake area.
Wood Sandpiper: A party of four birds seen in a cut rice field at Seosan Lake.
Spotted Sandpiper: A single bird near Anchorage was our only sighting.
Common Sandpiper: Surprisingly scarce in Korea with just three birds seen.
Terek Sandpiper: We enjoyed watching a party of ten birds feeding in a shallow borrow pit in the Seosan Lake area.
Rock Sandpiper: We barely managed to connect with this species with just a single bird at Dutch Harbor and one at Homer Spit.
Bar-tailed Godwit: Quite scarce in Korea with just six birds seen over three days.
Black-tailed Godwit: Recorded on two days in Korea with a maximum of twelve birds at Seosan Lake.
Eurasian Curlew: Five birds mixed-in with the following species at the Cheonsu Bay mud-flats. The white rump and generally paler plumage allowed easy separation from Far Eastern Curlew.
Far Eastern Curlew: Sixty birds of this large impressive shorebird were seen at Yeonguong Island and fifteen more at Cheonsu Bay mud-flats. Noticeably larger and longer-billed than the Eurasian Curlew.
Eurasian Whimbrel: Just three birds seen with curlews at the Cheonsu Bay mud-flats.
Common Snipe: Four birds seen at Seosan Lake.
Wilson’s Snipe: Six birds flushed out of a salt marsh on Kodiak.
Red-necked Phalarope: Phalaropes were recorded on about six days at sea with a daily maximum of 400+. Many of these were not specifically identified as to species. Based on distribution most were likely to be Red-necked.
Red Phalarope: About twenty birds well seen at Dutch Harbor.
Long-tailed Jaeger/Skua: A total of seven birds seen at sea with six in Asian waters. This is far fewer than the 250 we recorded on one day during a similar trip taken in the spring of 2007.
Pomarine Jaeger/Skua: An impressive forty birds migrating south in the Sea of Okhotsk on September 18th. In fact, birds were still coming through when we stopped watching during the late afternoon. Two birds watched having a spirited fight with an unidentified falcon [probably a Hobby]. Otherwise nine birds recorded over three days in Asian waters and three birds seen in American waters.
Parasitic Jaeger/Arctic Skua: The rarest skua with just three birds seen south of the Commodore Islands.
Bonaparte’s Gull: Only twelve birds seen during our several days in Alaska, no doubt the majority of the population had already headed south.
Ross’s Gull: A juvenile bird observed by BC following close to the ship in stormy weather in the Bering Sea north and east of Dutch Harbor [but still in American waters].
Black-headed Gull: Common in Korea and Petro.
Sabine’s Gull: A single juvenile observed by BC following the ship shortly after leaving Dutch Harbor.
Black-tailed Gull: Common in Korea including about 250 birds seen loafing around the harbor as we docked at Incheon.
Common Gull: Surprisingly scarce being recorded only around Petro.
Mew Gull: Up to twenty-five birds recorded on two dates around Anchorage.
Herring Gull: This species was recorded at most sites visited in Alaska, particularly Dutch Harbor where thousands of birds were present. Possibly some Vega Gulls may have been present but lack of time on the island [only about 4 hours] precluded a careful search.
Vega Herring Gull: Recorded on five dates in Asia waters with a maximum of thirty birds seen while the ship cruised south about ten miles from the Kamchatka Peninsular.
Hueglin’s Gull: This and the following two taxon were identified thanks to the expertise of our guide [Nial Moores ] Ten birds including adults seen at the Seosan Lake region in Korea.
Mongolian Gull: Recorded on three days in Korea with a maximum of ten birds at Cheonsu Bay.
Taimyr Gull: Two birds considered to be of this taxon seen at Cheonsu Bay, in company with the former species.
Thayer’s Gull: A single adult studied closely as it perched on a buoy with Herring gulls at Homer.
Slaty-backed Gull: Unfortunately none seen in Alaska and even quite scarce in Asia, except around Petropavlosk where it was common.
Glaucous Gull: Just a single bird seen in Anchorage. Probably overlooked amongst the more numerous Glaucous-winged Gulls.
Glaucous-winged Gull: Common & widespread in Alaska but less than ten birds per day seen in Asia.
Black-legged Kittiwake: Very large numbers seen at sea, running into the low thousands on some days in American waters. Less numerous in Asian waters, although a distinct southerly movement noticed on two days south of the Commodore Islands and prior to arriving at Petro. This movement probably involved over a thousand birds. Fairly common as we entered the Sea of Okhotsk but numbers declined rapidly and none seen in the Sea of Japan.
Red-legged Kittiwake: We did not record any birds in American waters although quite possibly missed some amongst the large numbers of B.L. Kittiwakes. We finally connected with up to ten birds in with the southerly migrating flocks of B.L Kittiwakes [see above]. Usually 1-2 birds mixed-in with parties of about 30-40 B.L Kittiwakes. Only a few immature Red-legged were seen. On a couple of occasions we enjoyed watching birds alight on the sea at which time the bright red legs and feet were obvious.
Common Tern: Just a single bird seen, no doubt most had already moved south.
Arctic Tern: As with the prior species, recorded on just one date with ten birds seen in Asian waters.
In general alcid numbers were much lower on this trip than our cruise which covered a similar area in the spring of 2007. Many birds no doubt had already moved to their wintering areas,
Common Murre/Guillemot: Fairly common in American waters with maximum estimates of 500 birds seen in Katchamak Bay and 750 birds around Kodiak. In stark contrast our only sighting in Asian waters was a single bird seen in Avacha Bay.
Thick-billed Murre/Brünnich’s Guillemot: All birds obviously had already left their breeding sites and we only recorded three individuals during the entire trip. This compares to several hundreds seen on our spring cruise covering similar areas.
Pigeon Guillemot: Fairly common in inshore waters of Alaska. We recorded this species at Homer, Dutch Harbor and Kodiak usually in numbers ranging from 2– 30 birds.
Marbled Murrelet: Recorded on three dates on inshore waters at Kodiak, Katchamak and Bay Dutch Harbor with daily maximum of thirty birds.
Ancient Murrelet: Surprisingly our only sighting of this attractive alcid was a party of ten seen in Katchamak Bay. This compares to the many hundreds seen on our spring trip in 2007.
Least Auklet: A total of nine individuals of this tiny alcid were recorded – all in American waters. The daily maximum was four birds seen off Kodiak.
Parakeet Auklet: Eight birds seen on the sea as the ship cruised in Asian waters south towards Petro.
Crested Auklet: The cruise ship was delayed entering Avacha Bay at Petro. Instead of arriving during the night we entered the Bay at dawn. This allowed us to obtain great views of up to 300 Crested Auklets, many swimming close to the ship. About fifty birds also seen on the following day as the ship cruised south about ten miles off the Kamchatka Peninsula.
Rhinoceros Auklet: Recorded in very low numbers with none in Asian waters and up to four birds seen on four dates in American waters.
Tufted Puffin: As with our spring trip this was our most widespread alcid with up to thirty birds recorded daily in the Bering Sea and Pacific Ocean. No alcids seen at all in the Sea of Okhotsk and Sea of Japan.
Horned Puffin: We were very pleased to see good numbers of this attractive puffin as we had dipped on it completely during our spring trip. Quite common & widespread being recorded virtually daily in American waters with a maximum of fifty birds seen at Kodiak. All birds still retained their bright breeding plumage.
Feral Pigeon: Recorded in Anchorage, Petro and in urban areas in Korea.
Oriental Turtle Dove: Three birds arrived on the ship as we were cruising in the Sea of Japan. Also, common & widespread in Korea.
Cuckoo sp. An immature Cuculus cuckoo seen flying across the bow in the Sea of Okhotsk.
Belted Kingfisher: A total of six birds seen, including four on Kodiak.
Eurasian Kingfisher: Recorded regularly in Korea with daily maximum of four birds.
Grey-headed Woodpecker: Two birds seen and others heard in woodland in Korea.
Downy Woodpecker: A total of three birds seen in Alaska during our long, unsuccessful search for the Three-toed Woodpecker.
Hairy Woodpecker: Two birds seen in Alaska.
White-backed Woodpecker: We searched long and hard for this difficult species at a forested park near Seoul. Eventually we were rewarded when Gail spotted a very obliging male which allowed good views in the scope.
Great-spotted Woodpecker: A total of about ten birds seen in Korea with many seen during our search for the previous species.
Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker: Surprisingly scarce with just three birds seen in Korea.
Barn Swallow: Common & widespread in Korea.
American Pipit: Just a single bird seen at the Homer Spit.
Olive-backed Pipit: Just a single bird seen in Korea.
Red-throated Pipit and Pechora Pipit: Occasional birds of both species were heard calling while flying overhead at the Seosan Lake area. The birds were identified by our guide. Unfortunately, despite searching amongst the feeding flocks of Yellow Wagtail neither pipit was seen on the ground.
Eastern Yellow Wagtail: Common around the Seosan Lake area with up to fifty birds on a day. The birds appeared to be of the race M f taivana
Grey Wagtail: A single bird seen along a rocky stream at Namhansan Park near Seoul.
White Wagtail: Recorded on three days with a single at Petro and six birds seen in Korea.
Brown-eared Bulbul: Common & widespread in Korea. We did not attempt to estimate the numbers and simply ticked it in the daily log.
Light-vented Bulbul: This is a rare [but increasing ] species in Korea. While looking for migrants at the Taen Peninsular, we discovered one and heard others calling.
Steller’s Jay: Our only sighting was of two birds at Seldovia, Alaska.
Eurasian Jay: Seen daily in Korea with many birds appeared to be migrating. Our daily maximum was thirty birds seen in the “family park” near Seoul, where many were collecting chestnuts. The birds were of a very distinct race being much brighter than those in England with a particularly bright orange head.
Black-billed Magpie: Common & widespread in Alaska. Also, common around the dock at Incheon but not seen elsewhere in Korea.
Azure-winged Magpie: Quite scarce in Korea with just two birds seen from the car near Seosan Lake.
Northern Raven: Up to ten birds seen daily in Alaska including six at Dutch Harbor.
Northwestern Crow: Extremely numerous in Seldovia with an estimated 100 birds seen.
Carrion Crow: Our only sightings were of fifteen birds seen around Petro.
Large-billed Crow: Fairly common & widespread in Korea.
Vinous-throated Parrotbill: This attractive small babbler was quite common in Korea with close-nit parties of ten or more seen on several occasions.
Black-capped Chickadee: Recorded daily in Alaska with a maximum of ten birds seen on Kodiak.
Long-tailed Tit: Fairly common in wooded parks in Korea with a daily maximum of fifteen birds.
Marsh Tit: Another not uncommon species in wooded parks in Korea. In all recorded on three days with a daily maximum of six birds.
Varied Tit: This attractive tit was quite common with a daily maximum of up to five birds seen. A good site for all the tit species was the Namhanson Park near Seoul.
Coal Tit: Probably the least numerous tit in Korea being recorded on just one day with two birds seen.
Eastern Great Tit: Another fairly common tit in the woodland parks around Seoul. In all recorded on three of our four days in Korea with a daily maximum of twelve birds.
Eurasian Nuthatch: A single bird seen at Petro of the race S.E asiatica. Our attention was drawn by its loud sharp calling, quite unlike the liquid call of the nuthatches we are familiar with in Britain. The underparts were largely silky white with little or no trace of any rufous coloring. Also, fairly common in various woodland parks in Korea. These birds seemed more intermediate between the Petro and European birds and were of the race S.E bedfordi..
Red-breasted Nuthatch: Birds heard calling but not seen at both Anchorage and Seldovia, Alaska.
Brown Creeper: A total of three birds seen in Alaska.
Chestnut-flanked White-eye: Quite scarce with just two birds seen during our four days of birding in Korea.
Bull-headed Shrike: Nice views of a single bird seen at the Taen Peninsular.
Pacific Wren: A total of five birds seen in Alaska including four on Kodiak.
American Dipper: We were delighted to see both American and Asiatic Dippers during our brief land excursions on this trip. A pair of this species was watched for some while on the Little Susitna River en route to Hatcher Pass in Alaska.
Brown Dipper: Nice views of a single bird seen on two days at Namhansan Park near Seoul.
Ruby-crowned Kinglet: Only three birds seen in Alaska. Clearly, most local breeders had already moved out.
Golden-crowned Kinglet: Still quite numerous in Alaska being seen almost daily with a maximum of ten birds seen on Kodiak.
Siberian Stonechat: A total of three birds seen in Korea,
Grey-backed Thrush: Three individuals of this handsome thrush were watched feeding in a fruiting tree at the “Family Park” near Seoul. – A new bird and very good value.
Varied Thrush: Three birds seen around Eagle River and four more on Kodiak.
American Robin: Common in Kinkaid Park with parties totaling about 25 birds.
Hermit Thrush: Just two birds seen on Kodiak.
Asian Stubtail: This skulker was a difficult bird to see. Several birds were heard, and GM managed to get good views of one at Namhansan Park.
Zitting Cisticola: No sightings but a single bird heard singing in Korea.
Middendorff’s Grasshopper Warbler: While birding from the upper deck of the Silver Shadow, BC was surprised to see a fairly large Locustella warbler flying around the pool deck and landing on the deck-chairs. We subsequently all obtained excellent views and initially thought the bird was a Gray’s Grasshopper Warbler. GM obtained some excellent photographs and based on these and, with imput from Nial Moores, we revised the i/d to Middendorf’s Grasshopper Warbler. At the time, the ship was cruising in the Sea of Okhotsk.
Oriental Great Reed Warbler: A single bird heard singing at Seosan Lake A.
Arctic Warbler: Fewer than ten birds seen in Korea. Unfortunately the weather was warm & sunny during our brief stay making it unsuitable for large scale passerine migration.
Yellow-browed Warbler: Common & widespread in suitable habitat in Korea.
Blue and White Flycatcher: Three birds including a handsome adult male were part of an active mixed flock at the “Family Park” near Seoul.
Asian Brown Flycatcher: Two birds at the “Family Park” were part of the same mixed bird flock.
Dark-sided Flycatcher: Another species actively involved in the bird flock at the “Family Park” with at least four birds involved.
Grey-streaked Flycatcher: A single bird came aboard the cruise ship while we were south of the Commodore Islands, Unfortunately, in Asian not US waters!.
Mugimaki Flycatcher: This beautiful flycatcher was the last of the quartet that graced the “Family Park” with three birds seen.
Eurasian Starling: Just six birds seen around Anchorage.
Orange-crowned Warbler: Small numbers still hanging on in Alaska with at least three birds seen at sites around Anchorage, with mixed tit/kinglet flocks.
Yellow-rumpled Warbler: Only two birds seen at Kinkaid Park, Alaska.
Savannah Sparrow: There was a small migratory influx of sparrows at Homer Spit including about thirty Savannah Sparrows, Also twenty-five birds seen at Dutch Harbor.
Golden-crowned Sparrow: An impressive thirty birds seen amongst the boulders at Homer Spit.
Fox Sparrow: Eight birds at Homer Spit plus four at Kodiak and one at Dutch Harbor. All birds were of the very dark Sooty [Pacific] race.
Song Sparrow: Recorded at all three land stops in Alaska with the maximum of twenty birds at Homer Spit of the race maxim. This form is distinctly bulkier and darker than those seen in Maryland.
Lincoln’s Sparrow: Singles seen at Homer Spit and outside of Anchorage.
Dark-eyed Junco: Recorded regularly in small numbers at most sites in Alaska with a maximum of six birds at Homer Spit.
Lapland Longspur: About six birds seen at Dutch Harbor. Unlike our cruise in the spring none came aboard the ship during our sea crossing.
Snow Bunting: A single immature seen at Dutch Harbor was our sole sighting.
Yellow-throated Bunting: A total of five birds seen in Korea at various woodland parks. This included nice views of at least one male.
Chestnut Bunting: A single bird seen at Namhansan Park in Korea.
Black-faced Bunting: Just a single bird seen at Namhansan Park.
Eurasian Tree Sparrow: About twenty birds seen around Petro and fairly common & widespread in Korea.
Oriental Greenfinch: Two birds seen outside of Petro and heard on two days in Korea.
Rusty Blackbird: Two lingering birds seen at Kincaid Park in Alaska.
Bobolink: GM obtained excellent close views of a single fall-plumage adult/immature at Homer Spit. A very unexpected record of this vagrant to Alaska.
Grey-crowned Rosy-finch: A party of about thirty birds flushed from the side of a mountain by a Golden Eagle at Hatch Pass. Also, more expectedly, about twenty-five birds seen at Dutch Harbor.
Red Crossbill: Just heard only in Kodiak and none elsewhere in Alaska.
White-winged Crossbill: One seen and others heard at Eagle River State Park,
Pine Grosbeak: Unfortunately this striking bird was heard only [on Kodiak].
Common Redpoll: Recorded daily around Anchorage with a maximum of thirty plus birds at Kinkaid Park.
We were happily surprised at the outstanding list of mammals seen during the trip as follows:
Brown Bear: Two very impressive huge bears watched catching salmon on both of our visits to Eagle River Park, Alaska. – Unforgettable experience
American Lynx: We were delighted to see one walking along the side of the road at Arctic Valley. We were told later that they are seen quite often along this dirt road. – Very exciting!
Sea Otter: Quite common at Homer and Dutch Harbor.
Short-tailed Ermine: Two ran across the road in front of us at Hatcher Pass.
American Red Squirrel: Fairly common at Eagle River State Park and Kodiak.
Eurasian Red Squirrel: Several were seen at Namhanson park in Korea. The individuals in Korea are very dark, almost black.
Arctic Ground Squirrel: A single seen at Unalaska, although burrows were common. Apparently (per Suzi) introduced here.
Hoary Marmot: One seen at high elevation well above the tree line at Hatcher Pass. A very large attractive ground squirrel.
Japanese Chipmunk: Several seen at Namhanson park in Korea.
Porcupine: One seen briefly from the Anchorage to Seward train.
Eurasian Rabbit: Three individuals of this introduced species seen at Unalaska.
Moose: A total of seven animals seen around Anchorage. This included two large males at Hillside Park. We unexpectedly came across these at very close range. Fortunately, they were busy feeding and totally oblivious to us.
Dall Sheep: Three females were seen from the Anchorage to Seward train. They were feeding on a steep rock face close to the railway track.
Northern Fur Seal: About twenty seen at Dutch Harbor, and many others at sea all the way to the Sea of Otkotsk. Most were females lazing on the surface in their characteristic “tea-pot” posture (Front flipper holding rear flipper, making a loop).
Harbor Seal: Twenty seen at Kodiak and four seen at sea in the Gulf of Alaska.
Steller’s Sea Lion: A few of these endangered large animals – all huge, pale bulls swimming around -- were seen at both Homer and Petro harbors.
Humpback Whale: Easily the most numerous whale species being recorded on four days in Alaska waters with a maximum of fifteen seen after leaving Dutch Harbor in the Bering Sea.
Minke Whale: Singles seen in Katchamak Bay and off Kodiak.
Fin Whale: Three seen in the waters off Kodiak.
Orca: BC observed two animals swimming close to the ship while cruising in the Gulf of Alaska. Brilliant.
Harbor Porpoise: A number of small (less than 2m) dark porpoises with triangular dorsal fins, in small groups and not attracted to the ship were probably this species.
Whale sp. : Two unidentified whales seen in the Gulf of Alaska.
Dolphin: Five fairly large (3m) unidentified dolphins with curved dorsals were seen as we departed Dutch Harbor, possibly Dall’s Porpoise..